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Boys & Girls Club reopens to kids of medical personnel, first responders

Boys and Girls Club of the Highland Lakes

The Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes Executive Director Bill Drake and Burnet Unit Director Brittney Conley check in kids before they enter the facility. Though the club had closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it reopened the Burnet and Marble Falls units for the children of healthcare workers and first responders. Courtesy photo

Along with other facilities, the Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes closed operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but officials soon saw a need they could fill and recently reopened for the children of medical personnel and first responders.

However, the club could use community support to keep the service available during the pandemic.

Bill Drake, the club’s executive director, said that, with schools closed until at least May 4, and the club following the public school’s lead on unplanned closures, he and his staff faced the real possibility of letting non-essential employees go.

However, the staff came up with a way to keep employees working while providing a needed service to healthcare workers and first responders with children.

The Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes reopened its Marble Falls and Burnet units on April 6 “with the primary purpose to serve the kids of first responders and primary healthcare employees,” Drake stated in a letter to the community, stakeholders, and donors.

The club consulted with Dr. Jules Madrigal, the Burnet County Local Health Authority, in making the decision.

“We are operating under strict safety guidelines from Dr. Madrigal and have limited enrollment at each site to no more than 30 kids in Burnet and 50 kids in Marble Falls,” Drake said.

Under this plan, the club is operating at about 26 percent of its daily attendance during this time of year, yet it has increased its hours of operation by 300 percent for the same time period. During normal a school year, the sites are open after school, but, now, hours are extended to better accommodate the healthcare workers and first responders.

The club also has bumped up staff by about 250 percent.

Drake said these numbers are something they usually see and budget for in the summer, not April and May.

“I cannot think of any other time in our club’s history that we have needed the support of our community, stakeholders, and donors more,” Drake stated in the letter.

Donations will continue to support the club as well as the healthcare workers and first responders who need the service so they can do their jobs for everyone else during the COVID-19 pandemic. People may make donations at the Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes website by clicking on the blue “Donate” button.

For more on how COVID-19 is affecting the Highland Lakes, visit the coronavirus resources webpage.